FA chairwoman Debbie Hewitt has pledged her full support to England manager Gareth Southgate, despite calls from him to resign after a winless international break.
The Three Lions sit bottom of their Nations League group after draws with Italy and Germany and two defeats to Hungary, the latter of which was a 4-0 mauling on home soil that saw the feeling towards Southgate turn sour.
With the World Cup coming up later this year, some supporters called for Southgate to depart to give a new boss enough time to adjust, but Hewitt had no time for such a suggestion.
“My personal opinion on Gareth is that he is, by the facts on the pitch, the most successful England manager we’ve had for 55 years,” Hewitt said. “The bit people don’t see as much is the Gareth at camp and the culture he’s created.
“Certainly prior to Gareth being the manager of England, there was not the pride of wearing the England shirt. There were the club rivalries we’d read about. The players not getting on. He’s changed that beyond recognition and I’ve seen that first hand.
“I’d also say that I don’t just work in football, I work in business and I’ve worked with a lot of chief executives and Gareth’s skills – his high IQ and high EQ – would make him a chief exec in any sphere.
“That resilience and accountability [are] the two qualities I admire most. There are no slopey shoulders, he doesn’t huff, he’s resilient and that’s what you want in an England manager.”
When asked whether she had spoken to Southgate to offer these reassurances personally, Hewitt responded: “Absolutely I’ve spoken to him, yes.”
Hewitt also praised Southgate’s willingness to take responsibility for the poor results and acceptance that he is under pressure to perform.
She added: “Gareth’s reaction, as in everything to that kind of conversation, is always ‘it’s my accountability, and there’s always something to learn’.
“That’s why it’s refreshing working with somebody like that because that openness to learn is quite remarkable and quite unusual in any sphere.”